The life that is not ‘worth’ anything

Justice confirms that Luis Pina died working in precarious working conditions, after falling from a roof in Germany three years ago. But his family will not see even one of the 102,813 euros set as compensation because his company is declared insolvent and he did not even have basic civil liability insurance.

EOn July 13, Luis would have turned 48 years old, but He left three years ago, falling from several meters high, from a roof, when I placed solar panels in a house under construction in the German town of Merkendorf. He was working away from his home from Renteria, and further still from his native Portugal. His, says the lawyer who has handled his case, is one of the hardest stories you have seen. He died on September 3, 2018. The Guipuzcoan dream shattered.

His parents and his sister, the closest family he had left, mourn his death and misfortune. Powerless, seeing how the company for which Luis worked and those responsible “will go out of their way”, after declare insolvent and avoid any kind of responsibility. It is no use that Justice has firmly condemned them to pay compensation of more than 100,000 euros.

To make matters worse, the absence of basic civil liability insurance by the company makes this case more crude. Simply because no where to grab. “This is the first time that has happened to me in my entire career,” acknowledges David Pena, the ELA union lawyer who has handled the case. The family of the deceased, his parents in this case, they will not see a single one of the 102,813 euros set as compensation For justice. In the heart of Gipuzkoa, well into the 21st century and technology raised to the cube.

Luis “had a life of dogs”, the lawyer is sincere. “He lived alone and died alone. It is a disgrace like few I have seen in the time that I have been working, “says David Pena. He was the last link in the chain: a Belgian subcontractor, subcontracting to another Donostia company, with foreign workers, including Luis, to install solar panels in Germany.

Everything happened very fast. From overnight. “They came out at full speed.” From Errenteria, where Luis lived for rent with other colleagues, to Germany. “They signed the work contracts in the van. Luis himself was driving. They arrived at their destination on Sunday morning, they went to work on Monday, they got on the work and in ten minutes he clapped it. It’s the fattest I’ve ever seen. Due to personal circumstances and how everything happens, “laments the lawyer.

Everything sounds funny. “There were several foreigners in the van. He was the only one who, let’s say, he was trained to drive. They carried a credit card to subsist and in that card it was the businessman who was entering money. “Crumbs, he acknowledges.” They had a card in the name of the company and the card was conditioned by what the businessman was putting there. “

“And add to that that they are foreigners, who also they have no family network Wherever they go to work, Germany, they don’t even know the language. They are absolutely tied up, at the mercy of the businessman on duty. They get there and there is absolutely no no security measures. The sentence says it “, explains David Pena.

Luis’s death was noted in the sky. No noise, until the ELA union took the reins of the matter. He was a worker for a company in Donostia, Eraiki Perst. A nice name, with a label in appearance, but everything pointed to it being exactly a company created to use for this type of case, to get off the hook if something happens, explains the lawyer.

In the workplace they had to cope as best they could. “There was no protection, neither individual nor collective. They had no harnesses, there was no risk assessment, the main contract personnel were not there, there was no preventive resource … They arrived and were told: go up; and they did it “, narrates the lawyer.

The testimony of the ELA lawyer is devastating. During the trial, first in the Investigative Court number 3 of Donostia (later it would go to the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country), “the judge saw such nonsense of irregularities who asked an eyewitness, a fellow Maghreb of the victim: but how do you get up like this in those circumstances? “, recalls the lawyer.” And the answer he gave left me absolutely shocked: We went up because we had to work, because we needed the money. It is one of the cruelest and harshest manifestations of the capital-labor relationship. “

objective: subsist

David Pena has seen the movements of the accounts and knows how Luis and his companions lived. “They needed money to survive, not for the future. But to live for the day, and they go up to the roof, though no harness, although there is no lifeline, even if there is no scaffold; and they do it because they have to think about what they are going to have for dinner today, what they are going to eat tomorrow, where they are going to sleep, about what they have to pay the rent. It is an explosive cocktail: we are dealing with foreign workers who hardly have a family network here, much less in Germany, who need the money. Even today we are talking about companies that are in the sub-world of outsourcing. Because this company, let’s not forget, was a second subcontractor, “says Pena.

“Naturally, a company from Gipuzkoa”: Eraiki Prest. “You don’t have to go to India, or to Morocco. It was a home business. And that’s an explosive cocktail. What kind of companies are being created, without any responsibility? That the company has been undercapitalized with this speed, is the first time that has happened to me. It is a singular case, due to everything that surrounds the case itself, “laments the union’s lawyer.

But how can self-responsibility be evaded? “It is elusive and also in this case it is quite bloody, because we, who suspected that the company had the will to decapitalize, before the lawsuit formally requested the court precautionary measures. Specifically, the seizure of any account and asset that the company had. And it was denied to us. It was rejected because the judge considered that it was a drastic measure that was not justified, “he says. trial Catalan: there was no risk of flight.

“We thought that this could happen, because we know how these types of companies work. And indeed, to our misfortune, it happened and in the meantime, the company is undercapitalized.”

engineering not to pay

“Here they really do engineering. You really don’t realize it. You suspect first and when you read the Osalan report, you already realize it. That is, a company sends workers to a construction site without security measures as elementary as an evaluation risk, it gives you food for thought, and you say: this company has nothing to lose. They had absolutely no measures, “says Pena.

“We requested the embargo because there was an indication, which was that there was no insurance policy of civil responsibility for accidents. He had not even taken the notifications officially, he did not have civil liability insurance and he did not even bother to come to the conciliation act. So I see that this is going to happen and I say to myself: that’s it, if I win the trial, they won’t have money. “

So it was. Eraiki Prest SL is officially declared insolvent on April 23, 2021 and 89,403 euros of principal compensation remain in the air, plus another 13,410 euros of interest that no one will charge. 102,813 in total. Not a euro. The family is not going to charge anything at all. There is no type of subsidiary liability, as explained by the lawyer.

What’s more, “when the accident occurred in Germany, we have no competition more than for judge the company residing here, But of course, as there was no occupational risk assessment, prevention plan, or third-party prevention service, there was no support, no one to sue, “says the lawyer.

“You have the moral victory that there is a sentence that collects the facts …” But nothing more. The family says, “really has taken the news with great fortitude. It is the type of company created ad hoc for this: a subcontractor of subcontractor, and if things get ugly, I disappear at a stroke and I declare myself insolvent. Bear in mind that they went to Mercantil (to declare themselves insolvent) when they already knew that there was going to be a conviction. ”

“What is clear – continues the ELA lawyer – is that mortality is linked to precariousness and there are, in Gipuzkoa as well, companies that are authentic monuments of fiscal engineering to undercapitalize. And you can find, as in this case, that a damaged family does not charge anything “.

Because in addition, he insists, “we are talking about limited partnerships (SL), of limited liability, that respond with the assets of the company. “And it is impossible to expand the chain of responsible parties. And that is possible because” the requirements to create an SL are of joke, “Pena ditch.

No management control

“There is no control. How can it be that they have all the information: quote codes, registry data, tax data, of all kinds and not cross? Administration does not cross the data of insolvent companies with the sole administrator of the company and see if it has other companies and there are movements between them when it undercapitalizes one? There are mechanisms, but it is not done “, laments the lawyer.

“How can it be that a Commercial Court, or Social Court, or the Treasury itself does not automatically investigate this? How can it be that the Public administration is wasting moneyWhen could I possibly stop this bleeding, which is nothing more than fraud? “, insists the union’s lawyer. Many unanswered questions.


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